For a film in which giggling killers mock the size of a severed penis, Cold Fish is surprisingly restrained – at first. Passive family-man Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) is disrespected by his daughter, ignored by his wife, and ashamed of his modest aquarium business; Muratu (Denden) is his polar opposite – warm, funny, successful... and a serial killer on his fifty-eighth kill, looking for an apprentice. For forty-five minutes, the only blood spilled onscreen is by a piranha devouring its prey, but it soon gets gory thanks to a thorough (and thoroughly unpleasant) method of disposing of corpses.
Aside from an awkward attempt to explain the murderous ichthyologist’s psychosis as a product of childhood sexual abuse, this satirical stab at Japanese patriarchy (Muratu boasts maniacally “I may be a killer but at least I take care of myself!”) hits its mark. The climax is formidably bloody, but if you’ve got the stomach for it, Shion Sono’s ludicrous spectacle makes for compelling viewing.